Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein
Despite the claim of "an original screenplay by Edward Earl Repp," this entry in Warner Bros.' Dick Foran "singing cowboy" series was a virtual remake of the studio's earlier The Telegraph Trail, whose 1932 screenplay was credited to Kurt Kempler. Prairie Thunder in fact opens with the same montage as its predecessor, and Yakima Canutt and Albert J. Smith play identical characters in both films. Foran and rotund, eternally fatigued Frank Orth replace John Wayne and rotund, eternally fatigued Frank McHugh but that is really the only difference between the films. That, and Foran's lusty renditions of Over the Trail Again, The Prairie is My Home and a few other selections. Foran and Orth are assigned by the army to investigate a series of Indian attacks on the railroad. They quickly discover that the Kiowas have been mislead by unscrupulous trader Smith, who views the coming of the railroad as a threat to his trade monopoly. The Indians capture Foran and heroine Ellen Clancy, but Orth helps the former escape. The cavalry arrives just in time to save the railroad construction site from yet another attack by the Kiowas and Foran personally chases down the villainous Smith. The least expensive entry in the Dick Foran series, Prairie Thunder lifted entire sequences from the earlier John Wayne vehicle, including dialogue scenes between Canutt and Smith and the killing of a telegraph repairman. The film's pieces de resistance, Indian attacks on both a white settlement and the construction site, are lifted almost in toto from a silent Ken Maynard Western with Maynard himself plainly visible in several shots. Foran's blonde leading lady, Ellen Clancy, later signed with Universal and changed her name to Janet Shaw. Paul Panzer, the German-born villain of the 1914 serial The Perils of Pauline, appears unbilled as a medicine man..
bad-guy, cavalry, cowboy, good-guy, Native-American, rampage, telegram, vandal, wagon-train